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VI. Response of the Government of Egypt

Prior to visiting al-`Arish, Human Rights Watch contacted the office of Minister of Interior Habib al-`Adli requesting a meeting with him or his representative, and also requesting authorization for the governor of the Northern Sinai governorate and the head of SSI in al-`Arish to meet with Human Rights Watch in al-`Arish. Human Rights Watch received no response to this letter, or to subsequent efforts by telephone and visits to the ministry to secure a meeting. 

The government presented no obstacles to Human Rights Watch’s visit to al-`Arish. However, at least one person who met with Human Rights Watch in al-`Arish was again called in for questioning by SSI officials on December 8, immediately after Human Rights Watch left the city to return to Cairo.

Neither in al-`Arish nor in Cairo were government officials willing to meet with Human Rights Watch. In al-`Arish, on December 7, Human Rights Watch telephoned the governor, Gen. Ahmad `Abd al-Hamid, to request a meeting. He responded, “I don’t meet with anybody.”108 On December 8, in an effort to learn the whereabouts of two recently detained young men, Human Rights Watch telephoned Col. `Isam `Amir, the deputy head of SSI there, to request a meeting. After saying he needed to secure permission from his superiors, Mr. `Amir did not respond further to the request.

On December 9, Human Rights Watch visited the office of the State Security Prosecutor, Hisham Badawi. After re-submitting the Human Rights Watch request for a meeting in Arabic, as Mr. Badawi asked, he refused to meet, saying that he was “not responsible” for the issues we wanted to raise and that the Prosecutor-General was responsible for “this kind of meeting.”

On January 4, 2005, a delegation from the Egyptian Bar Association met with Muhammad Bindari, the head prosecutor for the governorate of Northern Sinai to ask for an investigation into alleged torture and arbitrary detention in connection with the investigations into the Taba attacks. The reported response of the prosecutor was that “this file does not fall in his jurisdiction but rather that of the Supreme State Security Prosecutor,” Hisham Badawi, in Cairo.109

To Human Rights Watch’s knowledge, the government has not investigated, prosecuted, or disciplined any security officials or police officers for their role in the torture and abuse of detainees arrested in connection with the Taba attack.

[108] This was the response of the governor to Ashraf Ayoub, who called him on his mobile phone to request a meeting with Human Rights Watch. Al-`Arish, December 7, 2004.

[109] “Lawyers syndicate urges investigation into thousands detained in Sinai” [in Arabic], January 4, 2005 at [retrieved January 5, 2005].

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